Strategicon Gamex 2017

My friend and I decided to drive out again to Strategicon in LA during Memorial Weekend. For me, it’s always a good trip to play long games, new games, meet up with LA gaming friends, and squeeze in a visit with my family.

My meepillow accompanied me during the 5.5-hour drive to LAX.

We left Phoenix super early on Friday morning (I, of course, napped in the car with my fun red meepillow), and we arrived in LA midafternoon. The first game I signed up for was 1846: The Race for the Midwest.

Investing in railroad companies and laying down tracks in 1846.

I had never played an 18xx game before and had been curious about it. Luckily for me, Strategicon does these 101 hours before the game so you can learn about it before deciding to play it. 1846 is an economic train game, similar to the mechanics of previous games I’ve played like Chicago Express. But this is much, much longer, and of course, more complicated. There’s a balancing act of spending company resources to build and upgrade track, selling that company’s stock, getting paid out, and using personal money to buy into other train companies. The guy who owned 1846 had specially made 18xx chips for the money, which now I’ll forever be spoiled by.

The owner of the 1846 game got specially designed 18xx chips to replace the paper money.

After a long travel day, and the 4-hour 1846 game, I called it a night, in order to be rested for Saturday. First up, a 9 a.m. game of Sagrada. I brought my copy downstairs, which the GM was grateful for having two tables of it. This game is so great. First off, it’s gorgeous, and secondly, the dice-drafting puzzle aspect of it makes it more substantial than just a pretty filler game.

Let’s make some stained-glass windows with dice! But you must follow adjacency rules.

Next up, I signed up for a game of Maria in the War Games Room. Unfortunately, you need at least three people to play, and nobody else had signed up except me and the GM. The GM gave me a brief overview (and by brief, it was about 45 minutes) of the game. Oh well, maybe next time.

The War Games Room has its own room and signage for all the games available to play.

I then signed up for 1775: Rebellion instead. This is a fun shorter war game that plays about 2 hours in which the Americans and British are fighting for control of the colonies. I’ve played 1754: Conquest — The French and Indian War before, so I was familiar with the mechanics. I like the random drawing of turn order for these games. I played for the Brits, and alas, the Americans prevailed and won.

Our British forces weren’t enough to stop the Americans from winning in 1775,

I had plans to meet with my friend Ruel Gaviola, an L.A.-based board-game writer for islaythedragon.com and Geek and Sundry. He wanted to play Sagrada, so I taught him and his friends how to play. They all really enjoyed it! We also played a quick push-your-luck game called Dragon Run.

Ruel and I just casually hanging out with headsets on at Strategicon.

Ruel then sat down with me to talk about writing for Geek and Sundry, and his Every Night is Game Night blog challenge for the month.

I finished Saturday with a quick interview with Harold Buchanan, board-game designer of Liberty of Death: The American Insurrection, a COIN game from GMT Games.  If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I play GMT’s COIN games.

Harold Buchanan designed Liberty or Death: The American Insurrection. How cool is that?!

Harold and I met during the 1846 101, and then he mentioned that he had designed Liberty or Death, to which I said to him that I totally needed to interview you. We talk about the War Game Room and how he became a board-game designer.

Sunday was a big day. I started the Advanced Civilization 101 at noon. I wanted a refresher course since it had been a year since I played Mega Civilization, which is the newer version of this game. The game got underway at 1 p.m. I remember thinking that the 7 hours the game was slated for on the schedule seemed ambitious, so I was expecting it to last around 10 hours.

Everybody plotting their next move in Advanced Civilization. Lots of chits on the board.

I could not have been so wrong. Also, note to self, never start this game later than 10 a.m. We finished our 9-player game after 14.5 hours at 3:30 a.m. on Monday morning, after clearing out the entire ballroom. Shoot, we finished Mega Civ, which was a 12-player game, in about 11 hours. Mega Civ is definitely  more streamlined than Advanced Civilization, but I still won’t hesitate to play either.  My friend who came with me from Phoenix won as Egypt. Next time, I so need to pick Egypt.

And this is us, calculating our scores at 3:30 a.m. on Monday after a 14.5-hour game.

And just like that, Strategicon was done. I saw old friends, made new ones, and played some heavy, heavy games. Can’t wait until next time!

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